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Monday, June 29, 2009

Honduran President Ousted By Court Order

The news hit yesterday claiming there was a coup in Honduras, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton siding with Hugo Chavez in insisting the so-called "coup" went against the rule of law.

We now find out the ousting of Manuel Zelaya was done by the military and done by court order.

Some 200 soldiers surrounded the president's residence in the east of the capital Tegucigalpa, disarming 10 members of the president's personal bodyguard.

"Today's events originate from a court order by a competent judge. The armed forces, in charge of supporting the constitution, acted to defend the state of law and have been forced to apply legal dispositions against those who have expressed themselves publicly and acted against the dispositions of the basic law," the country's highest court said.

Fausta has the roundup of news, so read all the updates and follow links, but a long story short, Zelaya wanted to rewrite the constitution and insisted on continuing even after he was informed it was unlawful, but he court and Congress.

The president wants to hold a referendum this Sunday to ask Hondurans if they approve of holding a vote on constitutional change at the same time as the presidential election in November.

On Tuesday, the Honduran Congress passed a law that appeared to block these plans. The new bill prevents the holding of referendums or plebiscites 180 days before or after general elections.

Army chief Gen Romeo Vasquez said he could not help to organise the referendum, as he would be breaking the law.

So, Zelaya fired Vasquez and decided to continue along his merry way to breaking the law.

RCP has the more:

There is strong opposition to the referendum:
* When the armed forces refused to distribute the ballots, Zelaya fired the chief of the armed forces, Gen. Romeo Vásquez, and the defense minister, the head of the army and the air force resigned in protest.
* Yesterday the Supreme Court ordered by a 5-0 vote that Vásquez be reinstated.
* Honduras's Supreme Electoral Tribunal ordered authorities to pick up all the ballots and electoral material, which were held by the country's air force.
* The country's Attorney General requested yesterday that Congress oust Zelaya.
* The courts have declared the referendum unlawful. Last Tuesday the Congress passed a law preventing the holding of referendums or plebiscites 180 days before or after general elections. Congress has also named a commission to investigate Zelaya.

Zelaya insists on holding the referendum and refers to these actions as "a technical coup". UN General Assembly president Miguel D'Escoto - the same guy who declared Fidel Castro "the closest thing we have to a saint" - denounced Zelaya's opposition as staging a coup d'etat against Zelaya, a sentiment voiced also by Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega. Hugo Chavez declared that "we are not going to watch with our arms crossed the goings-on in Honduras," and insisted "we will do what we will have to do so the sovereignty of the Honduran people will be respected."

Chavez is threatening war and Barack Obama has issued a statement siding with the ousted president who was intent on breaking the law to change the constitution in a country who does not have the framework to change the constitution by referendum.

WSJ explains:

While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.

The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.

Fox has Obama's statement.

"I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference."

According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration tried to meddle into this even before Zelaya got his butt tossed.

Knowing trouble was brewing in Honduras over several weeks, the Obama administration warned power players there, including the armed forces, that the United States and other nations in the Americas would not support or abide a coup, officials said. They said Honduran military leaders stopped taking their calls.

Fausta again has linked to show that the Honduras Congress has officially ousted Zelaya.

The Honduran Congress has officially ousted Zelaya “for repeated violations to the Constitution” and has now named the Congress President Roberto Micheletti as president of the country.

Honduras is scheduled to hold a presidential election next November.

UnoAmérica pide al mundo impedir acción de Chávez en Honduras The Union of American Democratic Organizations, UnoAmérica, requests that democratic governments declare themselves against Hugo Chávez’s meddling in Honduras’s internal affairs.

All that are only the highlights, head over to Fausta for the detail and links to everything and translations.

Reuters reports Chavez threatening military action against the Honduras president.


The coup was condemned throughout the Americas. President Obama joined other regional leaders in calling for a peaceful return of Zelaya to office.

But the Honduran National Congress defiantly announced that Zelaya was out, and its members named congressional leader Roberto Micheletti the new president on Sunday afternoon.

The Honduran Supreme Court also supported the removal of Zelaya, saying that the military was acting in defense of democracy.

Compare Obama's inaction and how long it took him to condemn the violence against the Iranian protesters and yet how quickly he wants to stick his nose into Honduras business, in defense of a dictator that was breaking the law blatantly.